Linux Ls Command Help and Examples (2023)

Updated: 03/13/2021 by Computer Hope

Linux Ls Command Help and Examples (1)

On Unix-like operating systems, the ls command lists information about files and directories.

This page covers the GNU/Linux version of ls.

  • Description
  • Syntax
  • Information in a "long" listing
  • Examples
  • Related commands
  • Linux commands help


ls lists files and directories, and their associated metadata, such as file size, ownership, and modification time. With no options, ls lists the files contained in the current directory, sorting them alphabetically.


ls [option ...] [file]...
ls [-a | --all] [-A | --almost-all] [--author] [-b | --escape] [--block-size=size] [-B | --ignore-backups] [-c] [-C] [--color[=when]] [-d | --directory] [-D | --dired] [-f] [-F | --classify] [--file-type] [--format=word] [--full-time] [-g] [--group-directories-first] [-G | --no-group] [-h | --human-readable] [--si] [-H | --dereference-command-line] [--dereference-command-line-symlink-to-dir] [--hide=pattern] [--indicator-style=word] [-i | --inode] [-I | --ignore=pattern] [-k | --kibibytes] [-l] [-L | --dereference] [-m] [-n | --numeric-uid-gid] [-N | --literal] [-o] [-p | --indicator-style=slash] [-q | --hide-control-chars] [--show-control-chars] [-Q | --quote-name] [--quoting-style=word] [-r | --reverse] [-R | --recursive] [-s | --size] [-S] [--sort=word] [--time=word] [--time-style=style] [-t] [-T | --tabsize=cols] [-u] [-U] [-v] [-w | --width=cols] [-x] [-X] [-Z | --context] [-1]
ls [--help | --version]


-a, --allDo not ignore entries starting with ".", providing visibility to hidden files (those starting with a ".")
-A, --almost-allDo not list implied "." and "..".
--authorWith -l, print the author of each file.
-b, --escapePrint C-style escapes for nongraphic characters.
--block-size=sizeScale sizes by size before printing them. For example, '--block-size=M' prints sizes in units of 1,048,576 bytes. See size format below.
-B, --ignore-backupsDo not list implied entries ending with "~".
-cWith -lt:, sort by and show the ctime (time of last modification of file status information); with -l:, show ctime and sort by name; otherwise: sort by ctime, newest first.
-CList entries by columns.
--color[=when]Colorize the output. when defaults to 'always' or can be 'never' or 'auto'.
-d, --directoryList directory entries instead of contents, and do not dereference symbolic links.
-D, --diredGenerate output designed for Emacs' dired mode.
-fDo not sort, enable -aU, and disable -ls --color.
-F, --classifyAppend indicator (one of */=>@|) to entries.
--file-typeSimilar to --classify, except do not append '*'
--format=wordFormats according to the following: across -x, commas -m, horizontal -x, long -l, single-column -1, verbose -l, vertical -C.
--full-timeLike -l --time-style=full-iso.
-gLike -l, but do not list owner.
--group-directories-firstGroup directories before files. Can be augmented with a --sort option, but any use of --sort=none (-U) disables grouping.
-G, --no-groupIn a long listing, don't print group names.
-h, --human-readableWith -l, print sizes in human-readable format (e.g., 1K, 234M, 2G).
--siLike --human-readable, but use powers of 1000, not 1024.
-H, --dereference-command-lineFollow symbolic links listed on the command line.
--dereference-command-line-symlink-to-dirFollow each command line symbolic link that points to a directory.
--hide=patternDo not list implied entries matching shell pattern (overridden by -a or -A).
--indicator-style=wordAppend indicator with style word to entry names: none (default), slash (-p), file-type (--file-type), classify (-F).
-i, --inodePrint the index number of each file.
-I, --ignore=patternDo not list implied entries matching shell pattern.
-k, --kibibytesUse 1024-byte blocks.
-lUse a long listing format.
-L, --dereferenceWhen showing file information for a symbolic link, show information for the file the link references rather than for the link itself.
-mFill width with a comma separated list of entries.
-n, --numeric-uid-gidLike -l, but list numeric user and group IDs.
-N, --literalPrint raw entry names (don't treat e.g., control characters specially).
-oLike -l, but do not list group information.
-p, --indicator-style=slashAppend "/" indicator to directories
-q, --hide-control-charsPrint ? instead of non graphic characters.
--show-control-charsShow non graphic characters as-is (default unless program is 'ls' and output is a terminal).
-Q, --quote-nameEnclose entry names in double quotes.
--quoting-style=wordUse quoting style word for entry names: literal, locale, shell, shell-always, c, escape.
-r, --reverseReverse order while sorting.
-R, --recursiveList subdirectories recursively.
-s, --sizePrint the allocated size of each file, in blocks.
-SSort by file size.
--sort=wordSort by word instead of name: none (-U), extension (-X), size (-S), time (-t), version (-v).
--time=wordWith -l, show time as word instead of modification time: "atime" (-u), "access" (-u), "use" (-u), "ctime" (-c), or "status" (-c); use specified time as sort key if --sort=time.
--time-style=styleWith -l, show times using style style.

style may be one of: "full-iso", "long-iso", "iso", "locale", "+format".

format is interpreted like 'date'; if format is "format1<newline>format2", format1 applies to non-recent files and format2 to recent files; if style is prefixed with 'posix-', style takes effect only outside the POSIX locale.

-tSort by modification time, newest first.
-T, --tabsize=colsAssume tab stops at each cols instead of 8.
-uWith -lt:, sort by and show access time; with -l: show access time and sort by name; otherwise: sort by access time.
-UDo not sort; lists entries in the directory order.
-vNatural sort of (version) numbers within text.
-w, --width=colsAssume screen width cols instead of current value.
-xList entries by lines instead of by columns.
-XSort alphabetically by entry extension.
-Z, --contextPrint any SELinux security context of each file.
-1List one file per line.
--helpDisplay a help message and exit.
--versionDisplay version information and exit.

Size Format

size is an integer and optional unit (example: 10M is 10*1024*1024). Units are K, M, G, T, P, E, Z, Y (powers of 1024) or KB, MB, ... (powers of 1000).

(Video) Linux Tutorials | The ls command | GeeksforGeeks

Using color to distinguish file types is disabled both by default and with --color=never. With --color=auto, ls emits color codes only when standard output is connected to a terminal. The LS_COLORS environment variable can change the settings. Use the dircolors command to set it.

Exit Status

0Everything is OK.
1There were minor problems; for example, could not access a subdirectory.
2There were serious problems; for example, a command-line option could not be accessed.

Information shown in a "long" listing

To view extended information about files, use the -l option to create a "long" listing. For instance:

ls -l file.txt

...displays something like the following:

-rwxrw-r-- 1 hope hopestaff 123 Feb 03 15:36 file.txt

Here's what each part of this information means:

-The first character represents the file type: "-" for a regular file, "d" for a directory, "l" for a symbolic link.
rwxThe next three characters represent the permissions for the file's owner: the owner may read from, write to, ore xecute the file.
rw-The next three characters represent the permissions for members of the file group. Any member of the file's owning group may read from or write to the file. The final dash is a placeholder; group members do not have permission to execute this file.
r--The permissions for "others" (everyone else). Others may only read this file.
1The number of hard links to this file.
hopeThe file's owner.
hopestaffThe group to whom the file belongs.
123The size of the file in blocks.
Feb 03 15:36The file's mtime (date and time when the file was last modified).
file.txtThe name of the file.


ls -l

Lists the total files in the directory and subdirectories, the names of the files in the current directory, their permissions, the number of subdirectories in directories listed, the size of the file, and the date of last modification.

(Video) Linux ls command summary with examples

ls -laxo

Lists files with permissions, shows hidden files, displays them in a column format, and suppresses group information.

ls ~

List the contents of your home directory by adding a tilde after the ls command.

ls /

List the contents of your root directory.

ls ../

List the contents of the parent directory.

ls */

List the contents of all subdirectories.

(Video) How to Use The ls Command on the Linux Command Line

ls -d */

Display a list of directories in the current directory.

ls *.{htm,php,cgi}

List all files containing the file extension .htm, .php, or .cgi

ls -ltr

List files sorted by the time they were last modified in reverse order (most recently modified files last).

ls [aeiou]*

(Video) Linux Command Line Tutorial For Beginners 2 - ls command in Linux

In the above example, only files that begin with a vowel (a, e, i, o, or u).

ls myfile.txt 2>/dev/null

Silences or suppresses any error message if the ls command does not find the file.


(Video) 1. Linux Tutorials: Linux ls command with examples

Please also see our explanation of the ./ and ../ directories listed in the listing of files.

chmod — Change the permissions of files or directories.
df — Report the amount of available disk space on file systems.
diff — Identify the differences between two files.
du — Report the amount of disk space used by a file or files.
file — Determine a file's type.
grep — Search for and output lines that match a specified pattern.
stat — Display the status of a file or filesystem.
tree — List the contents of a file hierarchy visually in a tree format.


Linux Ls Command Help and Examples? ›

When you use “ls -l” you will get the details of directories content. But if you want the details of the directory then you can use -d option as., For example, if you use ls -l /etc will display all the files under the etc directory.

How to use ls command in Linux with examples? ›

When you use “ls -l” you will get the details of directories content. But if you want the details of the directory then you can use -d option as., For example, if you use ls -l /etc will display all the files under the etc directory.

How do I use the help command in Linux? ›

To access a man page, type man followed by the command that you are requiring assistance on. Keep in mind not every command will have a man page. In those cases, try running the command followed by --help , -help , -h , or -H . One thing to note about man pages is that sometimes names will conflict with other commands.

How do you get help about the command ls? ›

The help command is limited and it is not possible to get info about all the commands using help keyword. To find complete details about ls command you need to use man ls command in the terminal.

How do I find command help in Linux? ›

find command in Linux with examples
  1. -exec CMD: The file being searched which meets the above criteria and returns 0 for as its exit status for successful command execution.
  2. -ok CMD : It works same as -exec except the user is prompted first.
  3. -inum N : Search for files with inode number 'N'.
May 4, 2023

How do I list the first 10 files in Linux? ›

Find the Largest Top 10 Files and Directories On a Linux
  1. du command : It estimates file space usage.
  2. sort command : Sort lines of text files or given input data.
  3. head command : Output the first part of files i.e. to display first 10 largest file.
  4. find command : It Searches file on Linux machine.
Jan 20, 2020

How to use ls command line? ›

The ls command
  1. ls -a will list all files including hidden files (files with names beginning with a dot).
  2. ls -F gives a full listing, indicating what type files are by putting a slash after directories and a star after executable files (programs you can run).
  3. ls -l gives a long listing of all files.

How to use help in command line? ›

Typing help <command>, where <command> is the command you want help for, is the same as typing command /?. Displays the help information for the dir command.

What is the use of help command? ›

HELP command. Use the HELP command or subcommand to obtain information about the function, syntax, and operands of commands and subcommands, and information about certain messages. This reference information is contained within the system and is displayed at your terminal in response to your request for help.

What is help in command line? ›

In computing, help is a command in various command line shells such as COMMAND.COM , cmd.exe , Bash, qshell, 4DOS/4NT, Windows PowerShell, Singularity shell, Python, MATLAB and GNU Octave. It provides online information about available commands and the shell environment.

What does help command mean in Linux? ›

The help command provides information on built-in commands. Built-in commands are any programs bundled with your version of the bash shell. For a complete list of the built-in commands available to you, simply enter 'help' at the terminal prompt.

What are the several options of ls command? ›

The ls command supports the following options:

ls -a: list all files including hidden files. These are files that start with “.”. ls -A: list all files including hidden files except for “.” and “..” – these refer to the entries for the current directory, and for the parent directory.

How do I see a list of files in Linux? ›

See the following examples:
  1. To list all files in the current directory, type the following: ls -a This lists all files, including. dot (.) ...
  2. To display detailed information, type the following: ls -l chap1 .profile. ...
  3. To display detailed information about a directory, type the following: ls -d -l .

What is the difference between man and help commands in Linux? ›

help is a bash command. It uses internal bash structures to store and retrieve information about bash commands. man is a macro set for the troff (via groff) processor. The output of processing a single file is sent to a pager by the man command by default.

How do I search for text in a file in Linux? ›

Using the "find" Command
  1. /path/to/directory specifies the directory in which the search will be performed.
  2. -type f filters the search to only include regular files.
  3. -exec grep -l "text string" {} \; executes the grep command on each file found and displays the filenames that contain the text string.
May 5, 2023

How to check all Linux commands? ›

Method 1: Using compgen command
  1. List commands. To list all the commands supported by the system we can use the -c option. compgen -c. The following screenshot shows five of the commands supported:
  2. List aliases. To list all the aliases we can use the -a option. compgen -a.
Jan 2, 2023

How does ls command work in Linux? ›

The 'ls' command is used to list files and directories. The contents of your current working directory, which is just a technical way of stating the directory that your terminal is presently in, will be listed if you run the "ls" command without any further options.

How to use ls l in Linux? ›

List files in long format. Type the ls -l command to list the contents of the directory in a table format with columns including: content permissions. number of links to the content.

What does the ls '- L command mean in Linux? ›

ls -l. The -l option signifies the long list format. This shows a lot more information presented to the user than the standard command. You will see the file permissions, the number of links, owner name, owner group, file size, time of last modification, and the file or directory name.

What is Linux command with example? ›

Use the cd command to navigate through the Linux files and directories. You will have to write the full path or the name of the directory to use this command. If you want to go to a new directory, you can write cd followed by the absolute path of the directory – cd /home/username/Music.


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